SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- For the most part, the Florida State players had kept reasonably quiet throughout the week leading to yesterday's game against second-ranked Notre Dame.
But when the Seminoles opened their yaps and started trashing the history and lore surrounding the Irish, they opened themselves up to a bit of second-guessing.
Especially after losing to Notre Dame, 31-24.
"They didn't know what Notre Dame was about, and after being here I hope they do," said senior safety Jeff Burris.
Said senior defensive tackle Bryant Young: "It was just a lack of respect. I bet they respect us now."
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden tried to defuse the situation, especially because the Seminoles might meet the Irish again in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day.
"I think Notre Dame might have gotten their feelings hurt," said Bowden, whose team lost for the first time since a 19-16 defeat last year to Miami. "Because we didn't know something about that mystique they've got. Heck, we were only a girls' school until 1947. I told my boys, if we were going to have a mystique, they were the ones that were going to have to build it."
Mistakes take toll
If anything, Bowden thought it was mistakes rather than mystique that cost the Seminoles the game. Aside from an interception by Ward, there was a fumble that Kez McCorvey kicked away without anyone touching him.
"How many turnovers did they have?" asked Bowden about the mistake-free Irish. "Those two turnovers were the difference in the game."
What also hurt the Seminoles was that Notre Dame seemed ready for nearly every trick play Florida State tried. The only one that caught the Irish off guard resulted in a badly overthrown option pass by tailback Sean Jackson on Florida State's first scoring drive.
There was a poorly executed double lateral from Ward to Jackson and back to Ward, who slipped and fell for a 14-yard loss deep in his team's territory after Notre Dame had jumped ahead, 14-7. There was also a direct snap play to freshman tailback Warrick Dunn, who was stuffed by defensive tackle Jim Flanigan on a play that had worked twice against Miami for big gains.
Rematch in air
The talk of a rematch was evident among both teams afterward. While Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz wasn't looking past his team's next opponent, Bowden didn't mind looking down the road a little bit.
"If both teams win the remainder of their games, it could happen," said Bowden, whose Seminoles still have to play at Florida on Nov. 27 and who will vote his team No. 2 in the coaches' poll today.
"I'd rather play another top team like Miami or Nebraska," said Flanigan. "I think since we played these guys already, it wouldn't really be that great to play them again."
Notre Dame tailback Lee Becton rushed for 122 yards on 26 carries, making him the first Irish player to run for over 100 yards in five straight games since Allen Pinkett in 1983.
The interception by John Covington was only the second against Ward this season, the first after a string of 159 straight without getting intercepted.
Out of there
According to a university spokesman, several hundred fans were ejected for having bought fraudulent scalped tickets. Another 40 or so were not admitted to the stadium with phony press passes.
While tickets were going for as much as $1,000 apiece, the best bartering job might have been done by Len Elmore, the former Maryland basketball star who is now an attorney and sports agent. Elmore traded two autographed pictures of one of his prized clients, Harold Miner of the Miami Heat, to a Notre Dame alum for a seat on the 40-yard line.
"One of the perks of the business," said Elmore.